Megacities in Copenhagen

Copenhageners – it’s already tonight, sorry that i did not see it before, that Michael Glawogger’s masterpiece from 1998, ”Megacities” (photo) is shown as part of a programme called ”The Urban Planet”, organised by the active Copenhagen Architecture Festival “that has, in collaboration with curator Jacob Lillemose created four events whose starting point is to look at the consequences of cities to the World today and especially to the future. Through films, lectures and discussions the events will point attention to the urban landscape as a sensual and intellectually overwhelming totality, created in a complex and intensive interaction between people, politics and architecture.”

Click below if you want to attend, ticket reservation needed.

Sooo… Glawogger is not here any longer but his films are. When I was asked to make my “Best Documentaries Ever” by Sight & Sound, “Megacities” was an obvious choice because “Few directors have as Glawogger been travelling the world to tell stories about how people live and think and work. This is one of the works from his trilogy (the others are “Workingman’s Death” and “Whore’s Glory”), with a superb cinematography of Wolfgang Thaler, “la condition humaine” is the theme so far away from reportage as one can be.”

The same goes for the film on the programme tomorrow, “Babeldom” by Paul Bush, I don’t know the film but the first description line is inviting: “Based on Breugel’s painting the Tower of Babel from 1593, Paul Bush made a meditative, but also quite insane abstraction over the idea of a fictional future city…”

Finally, this coming thursday, Jennifer Baichwal’s “Manufactured Landscapes” from 2006 introducing the work of photographer Edward Burtynsky, will be screened.

About that Georg Boch, Zelig film school student at that time, wrote:

”It’s the most impressive dolly shot I have ever seen. Why is it so great?

Because it shows the conflict between our expectations for fictional representation of reality and the representation in documentaries/reportage.

The usual standard-pan inside the hall we would have seen in a TV-reportage would have made it easy for the viewer to swallow the image, to sort it intohis/her categories. It is through this dolly shot that we experience the full dimensions of the hall and the nature of the labour in it.

The sense of a motivated travel of the eye that the dolly usually promises is turned into a nightmarish caricature as we only see the ever-repeating landscape of people at machines.  Strangely it is the use of means from fiction-films that makes this reality more real for us again. I think this is one of the paradox documentary makers have to live with today.”

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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